Leading up to last weekend it had been a long time since I raced. I did Condor 25K in October and the Georgia Death Race in March. The last couple years I really haven't raced much and that's largely because I've had a few injuries. While I think everything is finally on the mend, that doesn't change the past. And the past couple years have left me really missing trail racing. Not just the competitive aspect, but the community aspect of spending all day on the trails with friend and then getting to hang out at the finish line. And that's what lead me to run Peterson Ridge Rumble 40M last weekend. I should say thanks now to Sean Meissner for putting on such great event (and for letting me sign up late). Also, thank to all the volunteers out there helping with the race because it wouldn't happen without you!
My main goal for the Rumble was to have fun. Its been a while since I've raced so I really just wanted to experience the race day atmosphere again and get a chance to explore a new place. My training this spring was decent although I hadn't been able to do exactly what I've wanted due to a nagging shin injury. If you want to know more about the specific on my shin issues, here's a previous post I made focusing on that issue: https://andrewpaulmiller.blogspot.com/2019/03/early-2019.html The short version is my shin has been bothersome, but is getting better. It turns out all the troubles are starting in my back. Its likely my back in the source of all the injuries I've had over the last couple years. Regardless, my training wasn't what I hoped for but I wanted to have a fun day none the less so I settled into an easy pace early on and aimed to have a fun day on the trails.
Fortunately I was lucky enough to spend the first half of the race chatting with Ashley Nordell (who went on to win and set the course record) and Dirk Renner, who I met in the early miles of the race. Conversation flowed easily and we quickly ticked off the miles. The trails on the east side of the mountain are a bit different that in the Mac, so it was fun to experience some place new. The gentle rolling nature of the trails lead to easy running, but there were also a few rocky section to keep things fun. What I was most surprised by was how desolate the forest seemed. Right now nearly all the flowers are out in the Mac and everything is starting turn green. At the Rumble, that was not the case. Chatting with Ashley and Dirk, I found out that there was a lot of snow on the course only a week or so before the race. Fortunately that was not the case come race day!
By the time we reached halfway, it seemed like we had barely started. I guess that's what good friends and good conversation do. Around halfway, the three of us started to spread out so I got to enjoy most of the second half of the race alone. This was fine with me since I really enjoy running by myself. Its fun to be alone with my thoughts and just soak up a new place. That's not to say I didn't enjoy the first half. Sharing those early miles with Ashley and Dirk was one of the best parts of the race.
Early in the second half of the race there a climb up a red cinder road where I could see quite a ways ahead. I started to catch sight of a few runners in front of me so being competitive, I started to run a little faster to catch them. Racing was not my goal for the Rumble, but I knew my competitive spirit would catch up with me sooner than later. Fortunately, I didn't really get wrapped up in the competition and spend most of the second half just having fun on the trails. Anyhow, I caught a few people on the climb, passed through and aid station, then entered what I though was the coolest part of the course.
For those who ran the race, this was between the 2nd to last and last aid station. The course followed an old road bed coated in long ponderosa pine needles. The miles here were soft and quiet and slowly lead into burned section. Judging by the trees I would guess the fire passed through there in the last few years since the burn seemed fairly fresh. However, the road was not at all dusty as one would expect passing through a burn. The course popped out on a more established road momentarily where I caught my friend Mike Rosling. We exchanged a quick greeting and continued on our way. After the short section of road, there was several miles of trail which clearly has seen minimal use. These trails were coated with long pine needles and offered some awesome running.
Somewhere in here a passed a couple runners, including my friend Yassine Diboun from Portland. Yassine is a great guys to I chatted with him for a couple minutes before we separated. He will be running Western States in June and then CCC in August. CCC is one of the sister races of UTMB, which I hope to be run this year! Soon I rolled into the last aid station and saw my Dad and my friend Mark Wright who had been following me around the course all day. It was fun to see them out there!
I continued on to the finish and was surprised how quickly the race finished up. The last section had some great running in it and I guess I was just enjoying it so much the finish line snuck up on me. That was fine with me since I already had a great day of running on the trails.
One other point to mention would be my shin. I guess it will be part of the conversation until the pain is completely gone. The first few miles I could feel my shin a bit which is not what I was hoping for. However, my shin improved throughout the race and by the end I could barely feel it at all. Kind of weird how it improves with running, but consistent with how it's felt all year. Hopefully I'll be feeling 100% soon!
Hanging out at the finish was a blast. Its always great to see runnings finishing up and getting to chat with everyone who ran that day. Out of the many great folks I got to talk with, I should mention that I shared a short conversation with Mario Mendoza who blazed through the race in 4:08 to set the course record!
Anyhow, I'm planning to run McDonald Forest 50K on May 4 and Cruel Jewel 100M on May 17. My main goal is to get my shin 100% before those races. My training leaves a little to be desired, but I've been having fun on the trails all year so that's all that really counts!